- Consumer Electronics & Personal Gadgets
LifeCHARGE JuicyBar 2,600 mAh Power Bank Review
A Quick Welcome
Hello and welcome to another hub on my review series of power banks. I've done several reviews on some of the beefier power banks, but not on a smaller, more compact daily usage power bank so here I go with the LifeCHARGE JuicyBar 2,600 mAh power bank designed for all smartphones including the Apple iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, and iPhone 5C series.
What Is A Power Bank?
For those that don't know what a power bank is, you are in luck! The power bank concept takes a while to get used to. I can definitely relate this from a personal experience and through talking to those around me.
A power bank is essentially a portable battery that is capable of charging mobile devices. Sure, you can modify your mobile devices and remove much of the bloatware that your phone manufacturer, not to mention any names (ahem Samsung), installed as part of the "services" they offer. Even after doing all that manual tweaking, most smartphones experience a battery drain due to the excessive WiFi, mobile data, and GPS. This is where a power bank comes in. If your device requires multiple recharges to last a single day, it may be time to invest in a power bank. A power bank, depending on the size, is capable of recharging devices seven or eight times before it needs to be recharged.
From my experience with talking to others, I find many don't quite understand this concept. The question that often gets asked is why use a power bank when I can use a wall adapter, find a socket, and recharge my device from there? This only works if you can find a socket. Chances are you will not always find the perfect seat in a restaurant or take the methods of transportation that enable you to recharge your device via a wall outlet. As a commuter, I can relate to this quite easily. There is no outlet on the train and my phone's battery drain the most on the train ride. Why? To pass the time, I will play a few games, surf the web, check my emails, and so on. Often times, a power bank saved my phone from dying. It's a great tool to allow you to keep on using your device without compromise.
So without further ado, let's get started with the LifeCHARGE JuicyBar review!
LifeCHARGE consistently delivers a very nice re-usable packaging. As you can see from the image, this is a 2,600 mAh power bank. You get a micro-USB on the bottom and the Apple lightning port on the top along with a full size USB plug. The micro-USB plug on the bottom is mainly for non-Apple devices such as Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Motorola, and LG smartphones and tablets. The Apple lightning plug can only be used with newer iPhone models. More specifically, it can be used with the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C and any future devices that come with the lightning port. Finally, the full size USB 2.0 plug is to recharge the power bank itself.
The back of the packaging provides some more information. In case there is a display issue with the image, I have listed the descriptions below.
- Never run out of power again with your Apple Products (iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C) & Smartphones, thanks to LifeCHARGE JuicyBar
- Enjoy up to double the battery life you're accustomed to
- Eye-catching LED indicators inform you what energy level you're currently operating under
- Ideal for long trips when anywhere, on-the-go charging is essential
- LifeCHARGE JuicyBar is easy to use simply split your LifeCHARGE in your pocket, purse or bag and go about your day. LifeCHARGE's lightweight, go-anywhere design affords you the peace of mind of knowing that you'll never run out of power again in the middle of watching a movie, an important phone call or a favorite song
5v DC, 1A
5v DC, 1A
Full Charge Time
99 x 33 x 24 mm
- Do not expose to liquid or moisture
- Please ensure unit is fully charged before use
- Keep out of reach of children, small parts may cause choking
Although the description claims to provide "up to double the battery life", I have done an efficiency test and posted the results down below for you to get a better understanding of the performance.
Taking A Look Inside
Opening the package up reveals a few more details. More specifically, the inner flap provides an illustrates of the various compartments found on the JuicyBar. It shows how everything fits in nicely and can be taken out to charger various devices. The power bank in the open windowed area looks rather compact, but we have yet to see the quality. Let's jump into what's inside.
Pulling Out The Contents
This is the first view of the power bank as a whole. It has a very nice LifeCHARGE logo engraved to the side of it. The power toggle is out of view as the button rests on the side of the power bank. You'll notice a loop of some sort roping the battery to its cap. This rope is actually made out of braided fabric with the Apple lightning cord wrapped inside. The micro-USB plug sits on the opposite end out of view.
The JuicyBar also comes with instructions for first time users just getting acquainted with power banks. It's quite a few pages long. I'll show a photo of it later, but won't go into too much details. It's pretty straightforward as to how to operate the JuicyBar - charge it, plug it into your device, turn on power, remove when necessary, and recharge power bank when necessary. However, more safety and caring details are inside.
Finally, wrapped away out of sight is the "data cable". This isn't really a data cable. This is really just an USB extender.
I didn't find this necessary for me so I didn't unravel it just yet. This extender is only needed to recharge the power bank. It is definitely possible to recharge it without the extender, but it may be a hard reach to USB ports. I have recharged the power bank from both my laptop and wall outlet.
This extender may be necessary for those with clustered USB ports. This power bank is wide and so will block off the USB ports beside the one you are using on your computer. The USB extender will take care of this issue. I also have a wall adapter, which the extender helps with the reach. I decided against using the extender because my wall adapter is capable is capable of staying in place with the power bank plugged in. If you find that your wall adapter is falling off because of the weight, then consider using the extender.
Nevertheless, I have used it to demonstrate the recharging of the power bank. You can have a look at it below.
Charging The JuicyBar Power Bank
I did my recharge test using the wall outlet. It is a Samsung 2.1A wall outlet, quite powerful. I used it to see the fastest time it took to charge the power bank. It is possible to recharge the power bank using a computer's USB port. I don't recommend this because at a current of 650 mAh, you will be stuck charging for quite a long time. After testing out the charging with my wall outlet, I found that the overall time it took was just shy of 1 hour and 53 minutes. This isn't too bad especially having to wait through longer charge times with the bigger power banks that I own.
Want A Wall Adapter For A Faster Charge?
Taking A Look At The JuicyBar
The JuicyBar comes in a rounded body, almost cylindrical. There is a braided rope connecting the cap to the body. I wondered why this is the case with the lightning plus and not with the micro-USB. The only reason I can come up with is to make it an easy attachment for key chains or some other accessory. This makes it more convenient to carry around compared to having two fold-out plugs like the micro-USB is currently in. However, I would have liked to see the micro-USB also in a braided rope for a different reason. Although hard to see in this image and the images to come, I sense that the plastic connection on the micro-USB end is cracking and weakened due to bending it out to charge my device.
A bit surprised I was able to capture this view, but this picture reinforces my early point regarding the USB extender. As you can see, the plastic casing is quite bloated and will block of the other USB ports if you happen to recharge this power bank via your computer's USB port. In this case, an extender is necessary. Beside the standard USB plug, there is an indented slit. This is to house the lightning plug, only I don't quite know why they made it so big. This image also gives you an idea of the overall shape of the power bank. It looks like an egg shape and somewhat feels that way as well. I don't mind it, but I feel that it is easier on the hands compared to a box like rectangular prism shape.
Taking A Look At The Lightning Plug
As seen in this photo, the cap comes off revealing the Apple lightning plug. It is snuggly embedded in the cap. The wires for the lightning plug are wrapped in the braided rope. This braided rope is not elastic, which is a thing as it prevents accidentally pulling and damage to the connection. It is unfortunate that LifeCHARGE did not do this with the micro-USB end. Much harder to see and requires a direct look in the lightning plug, the metal cut for the lightning plug fitting seems poorly done. I see jagged pieces and carelessly cut apart. Nevertheless, it does work, but I would expect a product manufactured with care regardless whether the part is visible or not.
Taking A Look At The Micro-USB End
This is a fold out of the micro-USB plug. Unlike the lightning plug, there is no fabric braided rope. It's really just a thin piece of plastic with a metal conductor inside. I find this very problematic. Although it has barely shown signs of weakness, I can still see the plastic tear as it gets bent to the extreme. What the image on the package didn't show you was the micro-USB plugged in. If you scroll up and take a look at the image on the inside flap of the packaging, you can see that the micro-USB port is opened up with the plug facing to the side. Now, it is not actually possible to stick my phone with the micro-USB plug facing out to the side. I have to bend it even further back so that the plug is actually facing downwards. This causes a lot of strain on the plastic causing it to crack and whiten. My only concern is that this will eventually expose the meta conductor inside causing significant problems.
There is still a light leakage issue going on. This means that one LED light does leak over to the position of another LED light. Although it isn't significant, it may be hard to see the battery level at a glance. I'm more concerned with how the battery performs in charging my device over the light display. In terms of the battery monitor, there are four blue LED lights. Each represents a 25% level to give you a good approximation of how much power is left. For an iPhone 5, 2 LED lights would represent approximately 60% to 70% charge while for a Galaxy S4 it would be around a 50% charge only.
The power button is situated at the side of the power bank. There is only one thing to note for this. It isn't easily pressed when in my pocket, but does have a tendency to turn on when I put it in the side pouch of my bag pack. One time I noticed that it bumped into something else and the LED lights actually turned on. Luckily the JuicyBar is quite smart. It does come with an auto-shutoff feature if it fails to detect any device plugged in. However, it will not turn off when you device is fully charged. The JuicyBar will continue providing a charge so your device can conserve its battery and use the JuicyBar's charge as your proceed to your usage.
I performed this efficiency charge test with my Galaxy S4. Here is my charge log to give you a rough idea of how long it takes to charge a typical device. Note that the Galaxy S4 is one of the smartphones with a bigger internal battery. The iPhone 5S comes with a 1,558 mAh battery, the iPhone 5C comes with a 1,508 mAh battery, and the iPhone 5 with a 1,440 mAh battery. Notice that these are significantly smaller that the 2,600 mAh in my Galaxy S4 and so would actually be able to fully recharge from 0% to 100% with a bit left over.
I do not recommend charging your phone when your battery level hits 0%. Most modern devices are equipped with lithium-ion batteries that require IC controllers to function properly. If your device is powered too low, it may not be able to recognize a charge. Recommended level is generally 10% to 15% depending on your phone. Samsung provides a 15% recommendation so I went with that.
Based on the charge log, I approximated an efficiency of 81.715%. Most power banks manage to sit just above 70% so the JuicyBar definitely deserves an A grade here. I did not experience any heat build-up issues especially considering how fast of a charge it managed to provide. The JuicyBar was fully drained in just an hour and a half. I would say it would be around two hours for a full charge, which isn't far off from my 2.1A output wall adapter. Either my wall adapter provided a slower current or the JuicyBar provided a faster than stated current. Either way, the charge speed is excellent and the minimal heat is another advantage.
Instructions For Those Curious
For those still curious, this is what the instructions pamphlet looks like. It stretches over several pages, but don't worry if you don't like reading. The pamphlet is rather small, which will make accomplishing the tedious task very easy. The pamphlet demonstrates charging the power bank via a laptop, but a wall adapter works perfectly fine as well. I used a wall adapter and noticed no signs of damage. The power bank worked and delivered over an 80% efficiency so definitely no harm in using a wall adapter. If you need a wall adapter, scroll up just a little bit to the power bank charging section and I have provided some suggestions for some 2A wall adapters.
Who Should Get The JuicyBar?
This power bank is great for the average every day user. If you just want something as a back or just need an extra bit of power to get you through the day, the JuicyBar is definitely a power bank you should consider. It has the micro-USB and Apple lightning plugs built right in so you never have to worry about carrying a separate cord. Unlike with the bigger power banks, the JuicyBar is quite compact. The braided rope makes it a great travel companion as it can be looped to just about anything. The cap clicks in pace so you don't have to worry about it becoming loose and falling off. However, if you feel a bigger power bank is more suitable for you, feel free to check out my other reviews.